On September 24, 1971, the body of 17-year-old Maureen Brubaker-Farley was found on the trunk of an abandoned car near a landfill in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She had only moved to the city that summer.
She was last seen alive on September 17, 1971. On September 20, she failed to show up for work at a local diner, so her boss reported her missing. Police searched her apartment but found little out of order and her car still parked in the lot behind her building. Four days later, two teenage boys found her body on the trunk of an abandoned car. She was partially clothed but was missing her shoes. Her feet were clean, however, indicated that she had been killed elsewhere and then placed atop the vehicle afterward.
An autopsy determined that Farley had been hit in the head, fracturing her skull and killing her. She had also been sexually assaulted.
“A variety of evidence was collected during a thorough investigation and numerous subjects were interviewed. These interviews included suspects, potential witnesses, friends and family. Detectives had identified a variety of potential suspects but were unable to find enough evidence to charge anyone,” the City of Cedar Rapids said in a press release.
One of the initial suspects was a man named George Smith, who was 52 at the time of Farley’s murder. While police didn’t have enough evidence to charge Smith in 1971, they never ruled him out as a suspect, either.
“Smith had been identified by multiple people as an acquaintance of Maureen Farley’s from the diner that she worked at. According to officer’s reports, in the month after Farley’s murder, Smith had gone to the Police Department on more than one occasion, suspiciously inquiring about the progress with the investigation. Smith was also known to operate a hauling service which may have had him making trips to the landfill located near Ely Rd SW where Farley’s body was found. Smith was also reported to have worked at the Party Lane liquor store, located at 1000 5th Ave SE, right next to Farley’s apartment. Smith was interviewed extensively in 1971 but he was not charged. Smith was offered and declined a polygraph at that time,” the press release said.
When the Detective Doug Larison began reviewing the case in 2006, he obtained DNA from various items of evidence, one of which was a swab from Farley’s sexual assault examination. A male DNA profile was developed using the swab, and DNA was collected from potential suspects. The profile was also uploaded into a police database, but no matches were found. At this time, DNA was not collected from Smith for unknown reasons.
The Cedar Rapids Police Department Cold Case Unit began a new review of the case in 2017. By 2021, 15 potential suspects had been eliminated thanks to DNA. Smith was not eliminated, but his DNA could not be collected because he died in 2013 at the age of 94.
Without his DNA, the Cold Case Unit obtained a search warrant to obtain DNA from one of Smith’s blood relatives. This DNA was compared to the profile developed more than a decade earlier.
“On 09/24/2021, exactly 50 years after Maureen Brubaker-Farley was located, the Cedar Rapids Police Department reviewed the results of that comparison. It was determined that the unknown suspect DNA profile developed in this case was that of George M. Smith,” the city announced.
The case is now considered closed without prosecuting Smith, since he is dead.
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